A Tibetan Journey

On Monday 3 October the Danum Probus Group met at Doncaster Sports Club to listen to a presentation by Alan Clements. His subject was “A Tibetan Journey”.

Alan is now a retired businessman who has had a strong interest in Tibet for many years. A Buddhist for more than 30 years, Alan has taken instruction in meditation and dharma in both the Gelug Tibetan Buddhist and Japanese Soto Zen traditions. His first of several private meetings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1992 was to ask the question “what is the meaning of life” and this led him to become the Chairman and later Vice President of the Tibet Society and Relief Fund of the UK.

Alan took us through the recent history of Tibet, from the takeover by China in the early 1950’s, the escape of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959 along with many other Tibetans. He noted that in terms of projects such as road and rail infrastructure the Chinese have been beneficial, but they have mistreated the Tibetans, similar to the Uigurs in China itself.

Alan also has a large garden (Cascades Gardens) open to the public from Spring to Autumn, part of which is influenced by his Buddhist faith.

This was an excellent and thought-provoking presentation from Alan Clements.




Venus, Earth’s evil Twin

Roy visited Danum Probus Club on Monday, 4th April and gave a fascinating presentation  “ Venus, Earth’s evil Twin"


Adolf Hitler and his family

On Monday 21 March our guest was Eric Farthing who has extensive knowledge of the personal life of Adolf Hitler and his family. This talk featured Hitler’s British relations. Hitler’s uncle and his family emigrated to England when Hitler was still quite young and was apparently proud of him from a distance as he rose to political power in the 1920s and 1930s.

Then of course they tried to disappear from public view as WW2 began.

This practically unknown area of knowledge kept us fascinated all the way through.


Alexander Stuart-Houston, great-nephew.



History of the British Motor Car Industry

In late February and Early March, Bill Adey summarised the History of the British Motor Car Industry. The first part of his presentation on 21 February was based on all the small motor car and commercial vehicle manufacturers that eventually became the British Leyland Conglomerate. So the great names of the past such as Wolsely, Riley, Austin and Morris, Standard and Triumph and many others were part of the fascinating story.

Among lots of interesting material, we learned how Small Sidecars of Blackpool eventually became Jaguar Cars.

Then on 7 March, Bill continued with stories of the companies such as Vauxhall who became members of the General Motors Group and how the Aston Martin company had various owners including the agricultural engineering group David Brown. And of course, we had the enduring story of the cars which some regard as the best of all, the Rolls Royces. Over the course of two sessions, we got a real flavour of the cars of the 20th century.


Apollo to the Moon.

On Monday, 4th October 2021 at our usual venue at Town Moor Golf Club, Doncaster

Dennis Ashton a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society has visited us on previous occasions and his presentations have been thoroughly enjoyed by the members of Danum Probus.  He will be visiting us again on Monday, 4th October, 2021 when his presentation will be ‘ Apollo to the Moon.’ “

Dennis Ashton
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
Planetarium presenter, currently with Wonderdome.
Astronomy author, journalist and broadcaster."




Holiday Memories from the Past.

On Monday, 2nd August 2021 at our usual venue at Town Moor Golf Club, Doncaster

Chris Helme

 - for 30 years was a serving Police Officer and awarded the British Empire Medal in 1990 for his service in the community. He has written eight books both through commissions and self-published books on subjects including local history, brass band nostalgia and one taking a light-hearted look at his policing career. He has written a weekly nostalgia column in his local newspaper for over 30 years and has also written a number of articles for UK local and regional magazines.

   For over 25 years he taught local history adult community classes. In recent years he has taught older people how to use a mobile phone, basic computer skills, as well as teaching the same basic computer skills to job seekers and he a reminiscence workshop facilitator.
   During the mid 1980’s he was beginning to be in demand as a speaker outside his usual job-related presentations and has now developed a style that can both inform and entertain.
   His presentations have often been described as ‘Infotainment’.  He has developed a presentational style that can both conjure laughter and melancholy through his various subjects and have been appreciated by many local groups. The presentations are a combination of either digital powerpoint or stand-alone talks.
   He is a regular speaker at Luncheon Clubs, Rotary Clubs and Probus Clubs
throughout Yorkshire and averages 80 presentations annually. Even on his regular holidays to Cyprus he was asked to speak at an expat evening gathering at a hotel. In 2014 and 2015 he was invited to be a guest speaker on two cruise ships.
   He has been the producer and presenter of ‘Sunday Bandstand’ since its inception in 2007. This is his two-hour brass band radio programme which is now available through 13 community radio stations including here in the UK, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and an expat station in France.
On Monday, 2nd August, 2021 at our usual venue at Town Moor Golf Club, Doncaster Chris will give his presentation on  "Holiday Memories from the Past." From guest houses to caravans and even camping on to cruise ships and maybe the Moon.



Catching a Spy

2 March 20

Today Mike Burdis made a welcome return “Catching a Spy”. This was a detailed presentation about the spy Nicholas Prager, who was convicted of selling official secrets about the ‘V’ Bombers and their navigation systems to the Czechoslovak government during the Cold War.

Prager came to England because his father was a clerk at the British Embassy in Prague until it was closed in the late 1940’s because of the Cold War, and he and family were offered settled status in the UK. After studying electronics at
Prague University, where he met his wife Jana, he joined the RAF and was trained in radar technology. After several postings he was moved to RAF Finningley where he had access to secure information. Becoming fed up with the work, and feeling he was underpaid, he offered to spy for the then Czech Government. This went on for a number of years before being brought to the attention of the British authorities by two Czech defectors.

He left the RAF to work for GEC, specifically on the first computer controlled rolling mill in Rotherham, from where he was seconded to Bratislava to help install and run a similar mill. During this time a full investigation into his, and his wife’s, activities was in progress, and he was arrested on returning to England for a conference. He was convicted for his activities, and served a prison sentence. He died when he was only 52 years old. The death certificate said heart problems, but there were suspicions that it might have been homicide.


The Journal of Amelia Staniforth of Firbeck Hall


Today our presenters were Julie Colver and Valerie and Michael Oxley whose topic was “The Journal of Amelia Staniforth of Firbeck Hall”. This Hall, originally built in 1594, is situated near Worksop, and the subject was the very detailed journal kept by Amelia Staniforth from 1782-85. Amelia and her sister Henrietta lived at the Hall at that time, and a daily detailed account of their day to day life can be built up from the entries.

The Journal gives a full account of their social life at his time, including visits to other local Halls, even down to the names of their card games and the times which people set off and arrived.There are also entries about the food and drink eaten at the Hall. There is an entry about a feast at the Mansion House in Doncaster, which must have been some celebration because they arrived at 3pm in the afternoon and left at about 3am the following morning. There are also lots of references to the weather.

This was a fascinating account of life in a “big house” towards the end of the 18th century taken from the journal of one of its residents. The journal has been transcribed by Valerie Oxley and Julie Culver from the hand written original, standardising the spelling, into a modern manuscript.




3 February 2020 Meeting. Brian Downs - Doncaster REMAP Panel.

The first meeting in February (3rd) featured a presentation by Brian Downs about the
Doncaster REMAP Panel. REMAP is a voluntary organisation which supplies bespoke
aids for people with disabilities which are not available on the NHS.

Brian said that most people who need such aids as wheelchairs and walking frames are supplied by the NHS, but there is a small proportion who need something a little different to improve their lives. In conjunction with medical professions and the patients themselves, aids are designed and constructed in REMAP volunteers own premises at no cost to the patients.

Brian illustrated the talk with many pictures of the aids REMAP had designed and constructed, and had brought along a few of the smaller ones for us to see directly.

This talk really made us aware that good as the NHS is, it cannot deal with everything and how good it is the there are people such as those in REMAP ready to step in help when needed.


6th January 2020 meeting.  "The Uncertainty of Mr Heisenberg."

At our first meeting of the New Year on 6 January Roy Gunson was our speaker which
“The Uncertainty of Mr Heisenberg”. The was a presentation about the German
theoretical physicist, Werner Heisenberg. Heisenberg is celebrated for his work on
quantum mechanics including the famous paper relating to his Uncertainty Principle.
During the 1930’s, he was one of the German physicists who did not leave Germany
because of Nazi persecution, and became a member of the team trying to build a
German atom bomb. His role is to a certain extent ambiguous because although he took
part in the research, but there are suggestions that he tried to hinder progress. What is
not denied is that he loved the limelight, and that this might have been helped by his
wife’s friendship with Himmler’s wife.





On December 16 President George Kirk cutting the 40th anniversary cake at the 2019 Christmas Lunch.

We finished off our meetings in 2019 with an enjoyable Christmas Lunch at the Golf  Club which featured the ‘ceremonial’ cutting of the Club’s 40th Anniversary Cake. This was the last event of a very successful Anniversary year which has left the Club in good heart, and ready for the events of 2020, the first of which will be an intriguing
presentation on the uncertainty of Mr. Heisenberg.



2 December 2019 - DRAX Power Station

Steve Parker and two of his colleagues took us through the history of Drax Power
Station from its beginning as effectively two coal burning stations with three turbines
each, to the present day when it has four turbines driven by burning biomass to raise
steam and two tuning coal when needed. The biomass mostly originates in North
America, where waste timber eg branches, sawdust and thinning, material which was
formerly burned to get rid of it. This is now pelletised and shipped to the UK, and then
transferred by rail to Drax on a Just inTime basis. Development work is taking place,
along with Leeds University, into carbon dioxide capture.


Ladies and guests lunch in October 2019

From L to R, Angela Shoulder, Gloria Whitehall, past president Alan Whitehall, Vice President John Brown (President in 2020) and Lorraine Brown.


Breaching the Beaches and Landings Beyond

18 November 2019

The Speaker on Monday 4 November `Keith Lumley gave a presentation about the Normandy Landings which took place on 6 June 1944 entitled “Breaching the Beaches and Landings and Beyond”. This fascinating talk took us through the years of planning involved in the linvasion, not only the military operation itself, but also the huge amount of intelligence work done to wrong foot the Germans into thinking that the invasion would come at other locations.

In addition to the invasion itself, Keith spoke about the Commanders, both military and political, on each side and how their own personalities had affected the result. He said that Eisenhower was selected as the Allied Supreme Commander not for his military virtues, but because he was a great diplomat who was able to get the “glory seekers” such as Patten and Montgomery to work together.


Many of the mistakes were apparently because of poor recording of the information gathered and lack of communication between the investigating officers. Mike noted that the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry had highlighted similar shortcomings and it had said that police forces should adhere to a strict protocol when faced with cases in which lots of information is gathered. It appeared that these lessons had either been forgotten or ignored during the Stephen Lawrence investigation.

The Stephen Lawrence Enquiry

4th November 2019

Mike Burdis (retired Chief Superintendent of Police in South Yorkshire) made a very thought provoking presentation about the “Stephen Lawrence Enquiry”. After outlining the facts about the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Mike then went into the details of the police investigation which followed and the mistakes which were made.


We started at 11.30am and were split into two groups for a guided tour of this outstanding military museum. We had a break to take advantage of the excellent cafe, where some took the opportunity to have warm freshly cooked food and homemade cakes before resuming after lunch to complete the tour. A full day was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The knowledge of the two guides (retired military guys) giving the tour was quite outstanding and added to a great day.

We learnt that the lease is due to end for the museum next year and that the Council and wanting to remove the Museum to allow for the development of some sort. The feelings of all were that the museum is a jewel and absolutely unique. A campaign has been launched to save the museum.

Ashworth Barracks Museum is well worth a visit. see www.victoriacrosstrust.org

The Victoria Cross Museum

On Thursday, 14th November 2019 members of Danum Probus Club together with some wives and partners visited the Ashworth Barracks Museum run by the Victoria Cross Trust at Cedar Road, Doncaster. The mission of the Victoria Cross Trust is to seek out the forgotten graves of those awarded this honour and restore the monuments of our forgotten heroes.

The tour of this excellent museum covers the military campaigns up to and including the 2nd World war and those more recent conflicts involving British Military including Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and others to the present day. 


The Medal Winners

Crown Green Bowling Championship 2019



Peter Odale receiving the Singles Trophy from President, George Kirk.

Crown Green Bowling Championship 2019



George Kirk receiving the Kelly Cup from Peter Odale.

Crown Green Bowling Championship 2019



Arthur Kendrick and Geoff Firth receiving the Doubles Trophy from President, George Kirk

Crown Green Bowling Championship  2019




John Gregory receiving the Singles Trophy from Bowls Captain, Peter Oldale

Crown Green Bowling Championship 2018